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MISN-0-130

MAGNETIC DIPOLES
by
MAGNETIC DIPOLES Kirby Morgan

1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

2. Fundementals of Magnetic Dipoles


a. Defining the Magnetic Dipole Moment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
b. A Typical Magnetic Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
3. Magnetic Field due to a Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
4. Existence of Magnetic Dipoles
a. The Simplest Magnetic Structure is the Dipole . . . . . . . . . . 3
b. A Current Loop is a Magnetic Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
c. A Bar Magnet Consists of Tiny Current Loops . . . . . . . . . . .5
5. Dipole In External Field
a. Torque on a Magnetic Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
b. Work Done on a Magnetic Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
c. Potential Energy of a Magnetic Dipole . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
6. Electric/Magnetic Dipole Analogy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Project PHYSNET · Physics Bldg. · Michigan State University · East Lansing, MI

1
ID Sheet: MISN-0-130

THIS IS A DEVELOPMENTAL-STAGE PUBLICATION


Title: Magnetic Dipoles OF PROJECT PHYSNET

Author: Kirby Morgan, HandiComputing, 319 E. Henry, Charlotte, MI


The goal of our project is to assist a network of educators and scientists in
48813
transferring physics from one person to another. We support manuscript
Version: 11/6/2001 Evaluation: Stage 0 processing and distribution, along with communication and information
systems. We also work with employers to identify basic scientific skills
Length: 1 hr; 20 pages
as well as physics topics that are needed in science and technology. A
Input Skills: number of our publications are aimed at assisting users in acquiring such
skills.
1. Vocabulary: electric dipole, electric dipole moment, point dipole
(MISN-0-120). Our publications are designed: (i) to be updated quickly in response to
2. Calculate the torque, potential energy, and work for an electric field tests and new scientific developments; (ii) to be used in both class-
dipole in an external electric field (MISN-0-120). room and professional settings; (iii) to show the prerequisite dependen-
3. Calculate the torque on a current loop in an external magnetic cies existing among the various chunks of physics knowledge and skill,
field (MISN-0-123). as a guide both to mental organization and to use of the materials; and
(iv) to be adapted quickly to specific user needs ranging from single-skill
Output Skills (Knowledge): instruction to complete custom textbooks.
K1. Define the magnetic dipole moment (vector) for a system of N New authors, reviewers and field testers are welcome.
(fictitious) magnetic monopoles.
K2. Define the magnetic dipole moment for a magnetic dipole. PROJECT STAFF
K3. Explain the existence of magnetic dipoles in spite of the apparent
non-existence of magnetic monopoles. Andrew Schnepp Webmaster
K4. Write expressions for the torque, work, potential energy, and field Eugene Kales Graphics
of magnetic dipoles. Peter Signell Project Director
Output Skills (Problem Solving):
ADVISORY COMMITTEE
S1. Determine the torque on a magnetic dipole in an external magnetic
field and the work done on it in changing its orientation.
D. Alan Bromley Yale University
S2. Determine the potential energy of a given magnetic dipole or sys- E. Leonard Jossem The Ohio State University
tem of dipoles in an external field. A. A. Strassenburg S. U. N. Y., Stony Brook
S3. Determine the magnetic field at some given point in space due to
a given magnetic dipole. Views expressed in a module are those of the module author(s) and are
Post-Options: not necessarily those of other project participants.

1. “The Search for Magnetic Monopoles” (MISN-0-140). c 2001, Peter Signell for Project PHYSNET, Physics-Astronomy Bldg.,
°
2. “Magnetic Fields in Bulk Matter: Magnets” (MISN-0-141). Mich. State Univ., E. Lansing, MI 48824; (517) 355-3784. For our liberal
use policies see:
http://www.physnet.org/home/modules/license.html.

3 4
MISN-0-130 1 MISN-0-130 2

MAGNETIC DIPOLES m1
m3
by ` `
r3 r1
Kirby Morgan m2
`
r2
1. Introduction
The magnetic dipole moment is defined in a manner similar to the `
rN
electric dipole moment. This analogy can be made even though the mag-
netic monopole has never been observed in an experiment. mN
Figure 1. Magnetic monopoles mi located at positions ~ri .
2. Fundementals of Magnetic Dipoles
poles taken as +m and −m, the dipole moment of this magnet is found
2a. Defining the Magnetic Dipole Moment. The magnetic dipole
from the general definition, Eq. (1). It is:
moment can be defined in a manner analogous to that for the electric
dipole moment.12 The magnetic quantity that corresponds to an electric µ
~ = m~r1 − m~r2 = m(~r2 − ~r1 ), (2)
charge is the magnetic monopole (or, for short, magnetic pole).3 Although
a magnetic monopole has never been observed,4 it nevertheless is used to where ~r1 − ~r2 = ~l is the vector separation of the two poles. The magnetic
define the general expression for the magnetic dipole moment. dipole moment can thus be written:
Consider a collection of N magnetic monopoles, m1 , m2 , . . . mN . ~ = m~`,
µ (3)
Relative to a fixed coordinate system, each pole is located at a point
given by a vector ~r; ~r1 for m1 , ~r2 for m2 , etc. (see Fig. 1). The magnetic where by definition ~l points from the South pole to the North pole (−m
dipole moment µ~ (or, for short, the magnetic moment) is a vector defined to m, see Fig. 2). Eq. (3) is analogous to the expression p~ = q~l for the
as: electric dipole moment. As in that case, the magnetic dipole moment of
XN two equal but opposite poles is independent of the coordinate system used
~ ≡ m1~r1 + m2~r2 + . . . + mN ~rN ≡
µ mi~ri . (1) to describe it: it is a property of the system.
i=1

2b. A Typical Magnetic Dipole. The most common dipole moment 3. Magnetic Field due to a Dipole
vector is the magnetic dipole: two equal but opposite magnetic poles
separated by a distance `. For example, most of the external effects of a The electric dipole analogy is not strictly correct but it can provide us
small bar magnet, such as a compass needle, can be viewed as resulting with the correct expression for the magnetic field produced by a magnetic
from equal but opposite poles at its two ends. With the strength of the dipole. By the same method used for the electric dipole,5 the magnetic
field due to a point magnetic dipole (i.e. a dipole whose size, `, is negligible
1 See “Electric Dipoles” (MISN-0-120).
2 Observing
compared with the distance r to the point where the field of the dipole is
a magnetic monopole would be like finding only a “North” pole or only
a “South” pole of a magnet. In Nature, North poles and South poles are always found
observed) is:6
together in pairs. · ¸
3 See “Magnetic Monopole” (MISN-0-140). ~ (3~
µ · ~r)~r µ
~
B(~r) = km − 3 , (` ¿ r). (4)
4 Observing a magnetic monopole would be like finding only a “North” pole or only r5 r
a “South” pole of a magnet. In nature, North poles and South poles are always found
5 See “Electric Dipoles” (MISN-0-120).
together.
6k ≡ 10−7 N/A2 = 10−7 kg m/C2 Help: [S-1]
m

5 6
MISN-0-130 3 MISN-0-130 4

+m r 1-r 2= l

` -m
r1

`
r2

Figure 2. A common magnetic dipole with dipole moment


~ = m~l.
µ

The field lines for a dipole oriented along the z-axis are indicated in
Fig. 3. Figure 4. Iron filings placed of a sheet of paper over a bar
magnet help in visualizing the magnetic field lines.
4. Existence of Magnetic Dipoles
produce a pattern that suggests the dipole may be viewed as two magnetic
4a. The Simplest Magnetic Structure is the Dipole. In electric- poles, one at each end of the magnet (see Fig. 4). However, all attempts
ity, the isolated charge q can exist by itself; but in magnetism, isolated to isolate these poles fail. If the bar magnet is cut in half, the halves also
magnetic poles have never been observed. The simplest magnetic struc- turn out to be magnetic dipoles and not isolated poles.
ture is the magnetic dipole, which is characterized by the magnetic dipole
moment µ ~ . The most familiar example of a magnetic dipole is a bar mag- 4b. A Current Loop is a Magnetic Dipole. The explanation for
net. Iron filings sprinkled on a sheet of paper placed over a bar magnet the behavior of the bar magnet can be approached by first examining the
magnetic field of a circular loop of current. The magnetic field produced
by a circular loop of current is identical to that produced by a point
a) z b) z
`
r
z
`
r
+m
y
l y
` `
u = mlz -m
y
I Figure 5. The dipole moment of a circular
x l`0 x
current loop is perpendicular to the plane of
Figure 3. (a) A magnetic dipole oriented in the z-direction; x the loop.
(b) Magnetic field lines around this dipole.

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MISN-0-130 5 MISN-0-130 6

magnetic dipole (see Eq. (4) and Fig. 3), so the loop is also a dipole.
Consider a current loop in the x-y plane of area A carrying a current ` qB
I in the direction indicated in Fig. 5. The loop has a dipole moment along u
the normal (n̂) to the plane of the loop given by µ~ = IA n̂. The direction
of the normal is given by a right hand rule: when the fingers of the right q qA
hand curl in the direction of the current, the thumb points along the `
` ß
normal. ß
4c. A Bar Magnet Consists of Tiny Current Loops. The fact
that a current loop is a magnetic dipole suggests that the real sources of
the dipole field produced by a bar magnet are tiny currents at the atomic
Figure 6. A dipole in an exter- Figure 7. A dipole is rotated
level. These currents are produced by orbital electrons in the atoms of
nal magnetic field. in a magnetic Field.
the bar magnet. In a bar magnet, the tiny magnetic dipole moments are
aligned such that they add together to produce a strong magnetic field.7
Now it is apparent why the magnet always has two poles: no matter how Let us calculate how much work is done by the field when rotating
it is cut, it will always still contain the tiny current loops which give it the dipole from angle θA to θB as shown in Fig. 7. Since the forces vary,
its dipole field. we must integrate F~ · d~s, which can be simplified to8
Z θB
WA,B = τ dθ (8)
5. Dipole In External Field θA
Z θB
5a. Torque on a Magnetic Dipole. A magnetic dipole placed in an = µB sin θ dθ (9)
external magnetic field experiences a torque. The torque on a magnetic θA
dipole µ ~ is
~ placed in an external magnetic field B = −µB(cos θB − cos θA ). (10)

~τ = µ ~.
~ ×B (5) This can be written as:9
WA,B = (−~ ~ θ=θ − (−µ · B)|
µ · B)| ~ θ=θ . (11)
Compare this expression to that for an electric dipole in an electric field: B A

~
~τ = p~ × E. (6) 5c. Potential Energy of a Magnetic Dipole. A magnetic dipole
has potential energy since the work depends only upon the initial and
If µ
~ makes an angle θ with the external magnetic field as shown in Fig. 6, final positions, not the path taken. As was done for the electric dipole,
then: we will set the potential energy Ep equal to zero when the dipole is at
τ = uB sin θ. (7) right angles to the field, i.e., when θ = 90◦ . Thus the magnetic potential
energy of a magnetic dipole is
Thus the torque on the current loop (or any magnetic dipole) is a maxi-
mum for θ = 90◦ and zero for θ = 0◦ . Ep (θ) = −W90◦ ,θ = uB(cos 90◦ − cos θ).
5b. Work Done on a Magnetic Dipole. Since a magnetic dipole or:
placed in an external magnetic field experiences a torque, work (positive Ep = −µB cos θ = −~ ~
µ · B. (12)
or negative) must be done by an external agent in order to change the
orientation of the dipole.
8 See “Electric Dipoles” (MISN-0-120) for the steps in this simplification.
7 See “Magnetic Fields in Bulk Matter: Magnets” (MISN-0-141). 9 This shows that the units of µ
~ are J/T [S-2].

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MISN-0-130 7 MISN-0-130 PS-1

6. Electric/Magnetic Dipole Analogy


The table below summarizes some relationships that are mathemati- PROBLEM SUPPLEMENT
cally similar for electric and magnetic dipoles. In addition, the dimensions
of the quantities (in terms of the fundamental dimensions M , L, T , Q) Note: Problems 9 and 10 also occur in this module’s Model Exam.
are given as reminders of both the similarities and the differences.

1. A point dipole, with magnetic moment µ


~ , is in an external magnetic
Quantity/Property Electric Magnetic filed B0 ŷ where B0 is a constant.
Monopole Charge q [Q] m [LT−1 Q−1 ] a. Determine the torque on the dipole for each of these conditions:
Dipole Moment p~ = q ~` [QL] ~ = m~` [L2 T−1 Q−1 ]
µ (i) µ
~ = µx̂.
Field at ~r due to ~ =
E ~ =·
B (ii) µ
~ = µŷ.
· ¸ ¸
point dipole at origin (3~
p · ~r)~r p~ (3~
µ · ~r)~r µ
~ (iii) µ
~ = −µx̂.
ke − km −
r5 r3 r5 r3 (iv) µ
~ = −µŷ.
[MLT Q ]−2 −1
[MT−1 Q]
b. Determine the potential energy of the dipole in each of the four
Force on monopole at F~ = q E,
~ F~ = mB,
~ orientations given in part (a).
~r due to dipole at ori- ~
using above E ~
using above B c. Determine the work done in turning the dipole:
gin [MLT−2 ] [MLT−2 ]
(i) from x̂ to ŷ.
Torque exerted on ~ ext
~τ = p~ × E ~τ = µ ~ ext
~ ×B (ii) from x̂ to −x̂.
dipole placed in ex- [ML2 T−2 ] [ML2 T−2 ]
(iii) from ŷ to −x̂.
ternal field
~ ext ~ ext 2. Consider a point dipole, at the origin, with magnetic moment µ ~ =
Potential Energy of Ep = −~
p·E Ep = −~
µ·B ~ = 50 T ŷ.
(−10−2 m2 s−1 C) x̂ in a uniform external magnetic field B
dipole in external [ML2 T−2 ] [ML2 T−2 ]
Determine:
field
a. the potential energy of the dipole.
b. the torque on the dipole.
Acknowledgments
3. A magnetic dipole µ ~ = µx̂ is located at the origin of a coordinate
This module was based on an earlier module by P. Sojka, J. Kovacs,
system. Determine the magnetic field(magnitude and direction) at
and P. Signell. Preparation of this module was supported in part by
each of the points a, b, c, d shown in the sketch:
the National Science Foundation, Division of Science Education Devel-
opment and Research, through Grant #SED 74-20088 to Michigan State
University.

11 12
MISN-0-130 PS-2 MISN-0-130 PS-3

7. A point dipole with magnetic moment µ ~ is in an external field


y ~ = B0 x̂. Since torque and potential energy have the same units,
B
(0,y 0) a determine the direction(s) in which the dipole must be pointing if
its torque and potential energy are to be “equal.” Determine the
work that must now be done to reorient the dipole so it points in the
direction of the field.
d b
x 8. A dipole µ~ 1 = µ1 ŷ is located at the origin, while another, µ
~ 2 = µ2 ŷ,
(-x 0,0) (x 0,0) is located at the point x = x0 , y = 0.

a. Write down the expression for the magnetic field at the site of µ
~2
due to µ
~ 1.
(0,-y 0) c
b. Treating the field due to µ
~ 1 as a field external to µ
~ 2 (as it is), find
the potential energy of µ~ 2 in this field, hence finding the interac-
tion potential energy of these two dipoles.
4. Determine the magnetic field at each of the four points in Problem y
~ = 2 (J T−1 ) x̂ and x0 = 0.01 m, y0 = 0.01 m.
(3) if µ
5. The magnetic moment µ ~ of a point dipole in a constant magnetic field
~ 0 makes an angle of 30◦ with the field.
B
` `
u1 u2
a. Determine the potential energy of the dipole.
x
b. Determine the torque on the dipole.
x0
6. Determine the magnetic field at points a, b, c, d shown below if the
magnetic dipole makes an angle of 45◦ with the positive x and y axes
in the x-y plane.
c. Find the interaction potential energy if x0 = 0.05 m, µ1 = 3 J T−1
y and µ2 = 2 J T−1 . Put in the proper units of all quantities and
assure yourself that all of the units combine properly to give the
(0,y 0) a appropriate units for your answer.
9. A point dipole with magnetic moment µ
~ = µx x̂ + µy ŷ is in an external
45° ~ = B0 x̂.
magnetic field B
`
d u b
x a. What is the torque on the dipole?
(-x 0,0) (x 0,0)
b. Find the potential energy of the dipole.
c. How much work must be done to reorient the dipole so it points in
the direction of the field?
(0,-y 0) c
10. A point dipole µ
~ 1 = µ1 ŷ is at the origin, while at x = 0, y = y0 is
~ 2 = µ2 x̂.
located another dipole µ

13 14
MISN-0-130 PS-4 MISN-0-130 PS-5

~ 2 due to µ
a. What is the magnetic field at the site of µ ~ 1? b. ~τ = µ
~ ×B ~ = (−10−2 m2 s−1 C) x̂ × (50 T)ŷ = −0.5 N m ẑ,
b. Find the energy of the system using y0 = .04 m, µ1 = .5 J T−1 and where we have used: T = kg s−1 C−1 .
µ2 = .6 J T−1 . ·
3µx̂ · r̂ µx̂
¸
~
3. B = km − 3 .
r5 r
· ¸
~ 3µy0 (x̂ · ŷ)y0 ŷ µx̂ µ
` At a: ~r = y0 ŷ; B = km − 3 = −km 3 x̂.
u2 y05 y0 y0
· ¸
~ 3µx0 (x̂ · x̂)x0 x̂ µx̂ µ
At b: ~r = x0 x̂; B = km 5 − 3 = 2km 3 x̂.
y0 x0 x0 x0
· ¸
At c: ~r = −y0 ŷ; B ~ = km −3µy0 (x̂ · ŷ)(−y0 ŷ) − −µx̂ = −km µ x̂.
y05 y03 y03
` · ¸
u1 At d: ~r = −x0 x̂; B ~ = km −3µx0 (x̂ · x̂)(−x0 x̂) − µx̂ = km µ x̂.
x50 x30 x30
4. At a:
2 −1
~ = −km µx̂ = − (10 T m C s)(2 m s C) x̂ = −0.2 x̂ T.
−7 −1
B
y03 (0.01 m)3
2 −1
~ = km µx̂ = (10 T m C s)(2 m s C) x̂ = 0.4x̂ T.
−7 −1
Brief Answers: At b: B
x30 (1/2)(0.01 m)3
1. a. ~τ = µ ~
~ ×B ~ = −0.2 x̂ T.
At c: B
(i) ~τ
= µx̂ × B0 ŷ = µB0 ẑ.
~ = +0.4x̂ T.
At d: B
(ii) = µŷ × B0 ŷ = 0.

(iii) = −µx̂ × B0 ŷ = −µB0 ẑ.
~τ 5. a. Ep = −~ ~ = −µB0 cos 30◦ = −0.866µB0 .
µ·B
(iv) ~τ
= −µŷ × B0 ŷ = 0. b. |~τ | = |~ ~ = µB0 sin 30◦ = 0.5µB0 .
µ × B|
b. Ep = −~ ~
µ · B. x̂ + ŷ
~ =µ √
6. µ
(i) Ep
= −µB0 x̂ · ŷ = 0. 2
(ii) = −µB0 ŷ · ŷ = −µB0 .
Ep
At a: · √
(iii) Ep
= µB0 x̂ · ŷ = 0.
¸
~ 3µy0 ŷ µ x̂ + ŷ 2µ
B = km √ 5 − 3 √ = km 3 (−x̂ + 2ŷ)
(iv) Ep
= µB0 ŷ · ŷ = µB0 . 2y0 y 0 2 2y 0
c. W = (−~ ~ θ=θ − (−~
µ · B) ~ θ=θ .
µ · B)
B A 7. τ = µB0 sin θ; Ep = −µB0 cos θ
(i) W = −µB0 − 0 = −µB0 .
so sin θ = − cos θ which means θ = 135◦ or 315◦
(ii) W = 0 − 0 = 0.
(iii) W = 0 − (−µB0 ) = µB0 . W = −µB0 (cos 0◦ − cos 135◦ ) = −1.707µB0 .
2. a. Ep = −~ ~ = −(−10−2 m2 s−1 C) x̂ · (50 T) ŷ = 0.
µ·B W = −µB0 (cos 0◦ − cos 315◦ ) = −0.239µB0 .

15 16
MISN-0-130 PS-6 MISN-0-130 AS-1

8. a. µ
~ = µŷ; ~r = x0 x̂
· ¸ · ¸
~ (3~µ · ~r)~r µ µŷ µ SPECIAL ASSISTANCE SUPPLEMENT
B = km − 5 = km 0 − 3 = km 3 ŷ.
r5 r x0 x0
· ¸
~ µ1 µ1 µ2
b. Ep = −~
µ · B = −µ2 ŷ · −km 3 ŷ = km 3 . S-1 (from TX-3)
x0 x0
(10−7 m kg C−2 )(2 m2 s−1 C)(3 m2 s−1 C) m kg C−2
c. Ep = = 4.8 × 10−3 J. T = tesla = = kg s−1 C−1 .
(5 × 10−2 m)3 m C−1 s
T is the SI unit for magnetic fields.
9. a. ~τ = µy B0 ẑ.
b. Ep = −µx B0 . S-2 (from TX-5b)
c. W = −µB0 + µx B0 ,
q W = −µB(cos θB − cos θA )
µ = µ2x + µ2y . J = (units of µ) T
units of µ = J T−1 = ( kg m2 s−2 )/( kg s2 C−1 ) = m2 s−1 C.
~ = 2km µ1 ŷ.
10. a. B
y03
b. Zero.

17 18
MISN-0-130 ME-1 MISN-0-130 ME-2

Brief Answers:
MODEL EXAM
1. See this module’s text.
1. Explain how there can be magnetic dipoles in nature while there don’t 2. See this module’s text.
seem to be magnetic monopoles.
3. See Problem 9 in this module’s Problem Supplement.
2. For both electric and magnetic dipoles, write the corresponding ex-
pressions for torque, work, potential energy and field. 4. See Problem 10 in this module’s Problem Supplement.

3. A point dipole with magnetic moment µ


~ = µx x̂ + µy ŷ is in an external
~ = B0 x̂.
magnetic field B
a. What is the torque on the dipole?
b. Find the potential energy of the dipole.
c. How much work must be done to reorient the dipole so it points in
the direction of the field?
4. A point dipole µ
~ 1 = µ1 ŷ is at the origin, while at x = 0, y = y0 is
located another dipole µ
~ 2 = µ2 x̂.

a. What is the magnetic field at the site of µ


~ 2 due to µ
~ 1?
b. Find the energy of the system using y0 = 0.04 m, µ1 = 0.5 J T−1
and µ2 = 0.6 J T−1 .

`
u2

y0

`
u1

19 20